The Hitchikers guide to an Everest
If you choose to do an Everest, then prepare yourself to possibly undertake the hardest experience of your life! It’s a pretty simple concept. You go up the hill, then down the hill, up the hill, then down the hill……..
How successful you are can be determined by your preparation. You need to:
- Realistically work out how long you will need to complete your Everest
- Have more than enough food to last through the ride
- Put togeher a nutritional plan
- Have more than enough fluids to last through the ride
- Bring a charger to ensure that your Garmin lasts the distance
- Bring additional comforts to make the ride more enjoyable, i.e. change of kits, music etc.
- Have adequate lighting for any night stint
- Work out how many laps you will do in-between breaks
On the day time can really fly, particularly on your breaks. You find you don’t really rest much when you stop. You’re constantly doing something. Such as topping up water, eating, changing clothes, going to the toilet etc. It is important to set-up your car so that everything is nicely organised. The quicker you can get in & out of your pit stop. The more successful your ride will be. If everything’s cluttered, then you can also find yourself feeling cluttered.
What sort of hill should you look for?
Here are some things to look for when selecting your Everest:
- Is there a place you can go to a Toilet? You may know a great back street climb, but it’s no good to you unless you can take a dump in someone’s front yard
- How narrow is the road? (the closer cars need to be to pass you the more uncomfortable the day will be, and the higher the risk that one of them may hit you which will end your Everest pretty quickly)
- Is there any wildlife that you need to keep an eye out for?
- What is the road surface like?
- Does your climb experience fog? You should be mindful of fog when there is no wind, and this is where it is important to know your climb in all sorts of conditions
- What is the traffic like? If you can pick a climb with virtually no traffic, you will be doing yourself a major favour
- Is there a good place to park your car at either end of your climb? I personally prefer to park at the top, but it’s a personal choice
- Are there shops nearby?
- Do you get reception for your phone?
- How well shaded is the climb?
- Is the wind likely to affect your climb?
- Does your climb experience abnormal temperatures? i.e. does it get really cold overnight?
Tips for making your Everest easier:
- Know how long your Everest will realistically take. If you’re working out your average lap time, don’t use stats of when you are climbing fresh. You really need to know what pace you will ride on exhausted legs & go from there.
- Get a feeling for your climb. Go and do a lot of repeats before you Everest it. I can guarantee after doing an Everest you will know every bump in the road
- Don’t trust the weatherman! Pack extra clothing for any contingency
- Avoid social media. It may help improve your spirits getting support from others while you are riding, but this will cost you time, and anyone could easily spend hours texting, facebooking, Instagraming, commenting on Strava etc.
- If you have friends ride with you, don’t stop riding! When they say goodbye, you could easily spend 10 – 20 minutes reminiscing, and if you get to the stage where you’ve been on the bike for 20 hours, then every minute wasted will hurt more & more
- Change your kit at least once during your Everest. May cost you a couple of minutes, but in the later part of your ride when you’re exhausted, the extra comfort will be worth it
- Don’t stop riding. Sounds pretty straight forward, but later on, you will get really exhausted and may feel like taking more & more breaks. For every minute spent off the bike in the later part of your ride adds exhaustion so be smart and try & ride through it
- Make sure you keep eating & drinking though out the day
- Keep your car neat & tidy
- Most important is to stay positive throughout. You need to be as enthusiastic on lap 60 as you are on lap 6
Preparing for an Everest:
Originally I believed the best training for an Everest was to climb as many hills as I could. I was staggered to see a number of non-climbers. Who only would climb around 2,000 vertical per week complete an Everest. In hindsight I’ve found that the endurance & pre-preparation is key to an Everest. The choice of your climb is also paramount to your success. Obviously the steeper the hill. The shorter the distance. Then again you need to be able to climb really steep hills easily. Or you pick an easy climb,& then you’re looking at doing a ride of over 300 km’s, which is exhausting by itself.
The hardest part of an Everest is by getting your head around doing repeats. I came up with a training ride which I swear by. If you have to do say 60 repeats of a 6km hill it would be impossible to train for that specifically. Instead I would recommend to pick a short back street climb, around 300 – 500 metres of equal. Preferably a little steeper gradient & then go & knock out over 60 repeats of that short hill. The benefit of this will be to get your head around doing 60 repeats. This will also give you an idea of how much vertical you can push yourself to do before needing a break. As a bonus it will give you an idea of what sorts of foods your body will crave when knocking out repeats.
At the end of the day it’s only a ride
If you commit to doing an Everesting, it will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. There is no such thing as an easy Everest. There are dangers involved which could prevent you from finishing. You need to be aware that your safety is worth more than finishing an Everest. You should never be scared to pull the pin. It’s much better to fail at 8,000vm, than to go through to the end & screw up your knee. Then not being able to ride for the following 6 months. Not everyone will be able to complete an Everest. For those that do you will be seen as completely badass! Make sure you plan well, train appropriately & make the most of your Everest.
The Drive home
Most riders end up driving themselves to and from their elected Everest. No one can really foresee how they will feel after torturing themselves for 8,848 meters. Please be mindful of fatigue on the way home. If you’re too tired to drive, then pull over and have a power nap. Please try to get home safely!
Head to the Everesting Website to find out more:
Hells 500 ticket
At the end of 2013 Hells 500 were offering memberships. In order to apply you had to do a ride over 5,000 vertical which would then give you an invitation to the 2014 Hells 500 epic. I decided to do my 5,000 in a Dandython, and crazily decided to do it on the steepest climbs I could find. 4,300 vm was my previous record, so this was quite a big one for me to do.
I started on the Beast (aka Kia Ora Parade), which is one of my favourite backstreet climbs:
I spent the next 35 km’s going up & down the backstreets next to Forest Road. Amassing 2,000 vertical just in there. I was pacing myself really well, and taking all of the climbs at a snails pace. Needing to, as all of them had over 10% pinches in them, and were all hard. I moved onto all of the monsters. Hitting Mast Gully Road, Hughes Street, & worked my way around the Dirty Dozen climbs in Upwey. As I was approaching 100 km’s & 4,000 vertical I was working my way up Sandells Avenue, followed by Serpentine.
I was planning on moving onto Terry’s Avenue next until my legs told me to f#%k off.
My body cracked on the Serpentine. I probably could have kept hitting the steep stuff, but mentally I cracked and just couldn’t see myself grinding any more. With plenty of time to ride, I just couldn’t keep going up gradients over 10%. Finishing wasn’t a certainty, and I revised my plans. I figured that if I picked easy climbs that I could easily ride exhausted. These climbs included The Crescent, Perrins Creek Road & the 1:20, then I know I should be fine.
My mate Sambo joined me, and slowly grinded the hills with me. My Garmin failed on me, and the elevation froze so I had to manually guess how much I’d climbed. Ending up doing 400 vm too much. Of course when I saw that I was kicking myself for not going for the 6,000 vm at the time.
I sent my Strava link of to Hells 500, and was presented with an email with an invitation to the Hells 500 epic…..